Make It So: G.I. Joe the Game by Jerry Whitworth
Recently, G.I. Joe: Retaliation hit theaters becoming number one at box office and having the second biggest Easter weekend opening in movie history. However, something was notably absent from the film’s premier, namely a video game adaptation. In part, this maybe because traditionally G.I. Joe video games have been awful. The same was largely true of sister franchise Transformers until the release of Transformers: War for Cybertron (and its sequel Transformers: Fall of Cybertron). Both third-person shooters, the games borrowed from but didn’t adapt any particular incarnation of its franchise. A rich story with a well thought out world and impressive gameplay, G.I. Joe would do well to learn from Transformers (the Batman: Arkham series another example of following a similar formula to much success). Lets take a look at what could be a winning formula for a good G.I. Joe video game.
Former writer and editor for Marvel Comics, Larry Hama largely became the godfather of G.I. Joe when Marvel Comics was contracted to reinvigorate the toyline for Hasbro (the success of which went on towards another collaboration in Transformers). Hama wrote the comic book adaptation and the majority of the filecards used to describe characters from the franchise on the back of its action figures. An Army veteran of the Vietnam war, Hama added a great depth to G.I. Joe that undoubtedly helped it reach its incredible success. Perhaps even more than that, Hama’s knowledge of Japanese martial arts studying the likes of Kodokan Judo, Kyudo, and Iaido helped with the creation of the Arashikage ninja clan and its prominent members Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow. Hama would even remain with the franchise after it left Marvel, following it to Devil’s Due Publishing and IDW Publishing. In much the same way Paul Dini (writer, producer, and editor for Batman: The Animated Series) added both writing chops and credentials to the Batman: Arkham series, attaching Hama to write and help develop a G.I. Joe game will go quite a ways with fans and undoubtedly produce the best product for the franchise.
While playing as your favorite Joe would be fun, creating your own could be even better. This is especially true for online play. Pit your Joe against your friends or join together to form a squad with online exclusive content borrowing elements of Halo, Gears of War, Metal Gear, and Call of Duty. Select your character’s military affiliation (if you want them to have one) and primary and secondary Military Occupational Specialties (MOS) to unlock skills, abilities, and weapons, choose your appearance and costume, and select your weapons. A popular addition could be the capability to join the Arashikage which could limit your development towards commando or intelligence/covert operations and unlock ninja weaponry (like various swords, shuriken, sickle and chain, etc). Though, going the ninja route shouldn’t be the only road to martial arts and archaic weapons as there should be means to emulate characters like Spirit, Quick Kick, Budo, and Big Boa. Designing a character’s size and build can decide their attributes and growth in the game (big and strong characters can deal more physical damage and equip heavier weapons but move slower opening up being hit more often and delivers attacks with less frequency for example).
If you’re going to play a G.I. Joe game, you have to relive some of their finest missions. Adventures should include elements like the M.A.S.S. device, Oktober Guard, destruction of the Pit (and death of General Flagg), Silent Interlude, Weather Dominator, Pyramid of Darkness, Cold Slither, Springfield, the birth of Serpentor, the sinking of the U.S.S. Flagg, the emergence of Cobra-La, Fred VII masquerading as Cobra Commander, Destro forming the Iron Grenadiers, Operation Dragonfire, Overlord taking control of Cobra, the exile of traitors to Cobra Commander in a stranded freighter, the rise of the Headhunters, the execution at Trucial-Abysmia, Atlantis, Sei Tin taking over the Red Ninja Clan, HAARP, Red Shadows, and World War III. There are decades of storylines to borrow from and a number of them can be integrated into a story making up the game. Ideally, should the game do well, maybe a game could be developed adapting any number of crossovers with Transformers. A good candidate could be G.I. Joe vs. the Transformers teaming Cobra-La with the world devourer Unicron.
While making your own G.I. Joe is a must, people will undoubtedly be bummed if they can’t play with the Joes. So, the game has to make it possible to form squads made up of Joes and offer missions where you can play as established Joes and compete against friends for highest scores (such as playing as Snake-Eyes on a mission adapting Silent Interlude). The game can start out with such familiar Joes like Duke, Snake-Eyes, Roadblock, Scarlett, Flint, and Lady Jaye (and maybe others in auxiliary roles, like Doc for healing, Dial Tone for communications, and Wild Bill for pilot). The AI for the Joes can follow with their skills and personalities such as Snake-Eyes targeting key positions like gun turrets and sniper towers covertly or Roadblock taking lead as a tank with an anti-armor machine gun. The game can also integrate play with friends forming squads to take on missions providing players the best of both worlds from group play and mixing in established Joes with their teams. An added bonus could be tossing in bizarre Joes like Windmill, Scoop, Ice Cream Soldier, Hardball, Captain Gridiron, Big Lob, and the Fridge (based on football player William “The Refrigerator” Perry) into the background to come across in the field. Even a nod to M.A.S.K. would be cool since that toyline was tied into G.I. Joe a few years ago (animated series C.O.P.S. also loosely tied to G.I. Joe).
On the flip side, a cool DLC could be missions playing as members of Cobra. Infiltrating G.I. Joe headquarters as Storm Shadow, running roughshod with the Dreadnoks, plant bombs as Firefly, or leading the Crimson Guard in an assault tag teaming between the Crimson Twins. In the game proper, you could infiltrate Cobra as a member and interact with the crew of the terrorist organization rubbing elbows with Voltar, Major Bludd, Dr. Mindbender, Destro, Baroness, Cobra Commander, and Serpentor. Of course, Cobra is sort of an umbrella of organizations like the Dreadnoks, Crimson Guard, Night Creepers, Iron Grenadiers, Headhunters, Red Ninja Clan, and V.E.N.O.M. which should be reflected in the game. In terms of opponents, you can run the gamut of Cobra troops, seeing Cobra Soldiers, Crimson Guard, Eels, Snow Serpents, Tele-Vipers, B.A.T.s, Vipers, Motor-Vipers, Strato-Vipers, Cobra-La Royal Guard, Iron Grenadiers, Alley Vipers, T.A.R.G.A.T.s, Night Creepers, S.A.W.-Vipers, Rock Vipers, Desert Scorpions, Flak-Vipers, Headhunters, Ninja Vipers, Bio-Vipers, Monstro-Vipers, Red Ninjas, Shock Vipers, Neo-Vipers, Swamp-Vipers, Black Dragon Ninjas, etc. And, again, a cute Easter egg could be running into some of Cobra’s most bizarre members like Big Boa, Raptor, Crystal Ball, and Croc Master.
VEHICLES, WEAPONS AND EQUIPMENT
One of the craziest aspects of G.I. Joe is that seemingly every member of the team could pilot virtually any vehicle. This idea would work quite well in a video game where players can come across an abandoned F.A.N.G., H.I.S.S., Dragonfly, Sky Hawk, or Trouble Bubble on the battlefield and use it against the enemy. One of the most iconic images for G.I. Joe is a Joe knocking a Cobra agent out of a Trouble Bubble and hijack it mid-air which could make for an amusing element of gameplay. Of course, another intriguing element of playing the game could be piloting a Skystriker or Rattler for a flight-based mission. As far as weapons, as a Joe you could start out with the standard M16 rifle, MP5 submachine gun, SIG Sauer pistol, hand grenades, and combat knife, but as the game progresses and new attributes are unlocked, you can obtain more advanced weaponry like the AA-12 automatic shotgun or CornerShot. Of course, set in a universe seemingly just beyond the present day with miraculous scientific advances, the Joes could incorporate equipment that yet exists like magnetic grenades that disarm enemies or delayed explosive rounds for sniper rifles. As far as archaic weapons, you can run with the standard fair previously mentioned and later upgrade to various other weapons (perhaps taking notes from games like Assassin’s Creed or Ninja Gaiden) and tools like smoke bombs. And, of course, you could see an intermingling of these elements like shuriken grenades or some sort of vibrating garotte that can cut through armor. Another cool feature down the line could be some sort of optic display in the vein of detective mode from the Batman: Arkham series.
TOP VOICE TALENT
Video games are in a rather unique position featuring likely a larger budget that an animated series and who can cast voice talent with high recognition who may lack the physicality to star in live action films anymore (or are too busy for an extended role in a film or television series). Because of this, well-known actors could be brought in to add their voice to the well known figures of G.I. Joe adding a new dimension and depth to the game. Some talented actors with unique voices that maybe open to the project could include the likes of Sean Bean, Tom Berenger, Moon Bloodgood, Clancy Brown, Bruce Campbell, Jeffrey Combs, Tim Curry, Keith David, Michael Dorn, Bill Duke, Eliza Dushku, Cary Elwes, R. Lee Ermey, Laurence Fishburne, William Forsythe, Matt Frewer, Bill Goldberg, Linda Hamilton, Gregg Henry, Djimon Hounsou, Kelly Hu, Ernie Hudson, Michael Ironside, Jason Isaacs, Vinnie Jones, Robert Knepper, Sho Kosugi, John de Lancie, Michael Madsen, Carrie-Anne Moss, Craig T. Nelson, Terry O`Quinn, Bruce Payne, Ron Perlman, Lou Diamond Phillips, Dominic Purcell, Norman Reedus, Freddy Rodriguez, Michael Rooker, Danny Trejo, Patrick Warburton, Carl Weathers, or Michael Jai White. All talented performers in their own distinction, voice work for G.I. Joe would bring notoriety to the project (as well as legitimacy to its content). Of course, actors like Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Brendan Fraser, Ray Stevenson, and Arnold Vosloo who worked in the live action adaptation could offer a great deal of talent to the project. Should Tunnel Rat make it into the game, having Larry Hama provide his voice could be an Easter egg since the character was based on him. There is also, of course, Sgt. Slaughter who could portray himself.
For more about the history of G.I. Joe video games:
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